THE NEWBERG REPORT — DECEMBER 24, 2006

There are some sports moments you don’t forget, not the moments that return to you for days and weeks and sometimes years because of televised highlights or radio soundbites but the type that bookmark themselves forever because they blindside you, less because of their impact than because of the sense that there’s almost no chance you could have ever imagined something like it happening.

What follows is not an analysis of the Rangers’ Saturday trade of John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jake Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano, but a rehashing (to the best of my ability) of my initial thoughts about the deal. My very initial thoughts.

1. First thought: Get a News Flash out. I don’t like this trade.

2. Next: Two years ago, when he was 21, McCarthy might have been the most heralded pitching prospect in baseball. OK, maybe I like it.

3. The deal obviously means both teams agreed McCarthy was worth more in trade than Danks, today. But to account for that difference, whatever it was perceived to be, did the even-up have to be Masset? Not happy.

4. That unforgettable game McCarthy pitched on August 30, 2005 in Arlington, matched up against Edinson Volquez in the back end of a twinbill . . . a game that was supposed to be all about Volquez’s big league debut but was instead remarkable because of the manner in which McCarthy logged his first big league win, blanking the Rangers in their own house on two hits and a walk over 7.2 innings. Happy.

5. McCarthy is right-handed. Danks is left-handed. In and of itself, troubling.

6. Maybe this indication that Jon Daniels wanted the guy who he thinks has the better chance to help Texas win now helps on the Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, and Barry Zito fronts. I like that.

7. I’ve known Danks and Masset and their families since each pitcher was 20 years old, have seen them grow on the field and off of it, and that makes this extra tough. That part *****.

8. Though it’s not right to judge a deal before it plays out on the field for a while, we all of course develop an immediate assessment, and my gut reaction is generally based on who got the best player. That’s not easy to say here – we could all make a case for three of the five players involved being that guy – but objectively speaking, most would say McCarthy is that guy right now. Believe in this.

9. But since eight or nine pitchers out of 10 don’t ever become what they’re touted to be capable of, the Sox’s odds of coming out ahead are greater, because they’re not betting on just one guy. Stomach ache sets in.

10. But McCarthy is the one guy who’s really done it, at least intermittently, in the major leagues. Stomach ache becomes ice cream headache.

And that all hit me in the first five minutes. Seriously.

Here’s the thing: It’s almost impossible to imagine a Tony Romo for Vince Young trade. Because neither team would ever give up its guy.

And if it actually did happen, the fans of both teams would hate it. We’re all territorial about our own players, especially the ones who grew up in our team’s uniform. General managers and scouts surely tend to be territorial, too, and that’s why trades like this one seem to never happen. I racked my brain last night trying to think of the last trade that involved top-tier pitching prospects for top-tier pitching prospects, with no contract or free agency issues involved on either side. Still coming up empty.

The reaction of hundreds of Rangers fans whose opinions I read in emails or on the message board yesterday provided nothing close to a consensus about this trade. Most liked it for Texas or thought it was a win-win, though the meter was decidedly more against the deal early in the day than later on. Almost every White Sox fan whose opinion I read hated the trade.

But every fan who shared his or her opinion was passionate about it. This is clearly a trade that, one way or another, will be talked about for years and years.

I have a thousand thoughts and a hundred questions. What it comes down to for me is simple, and yet impossible to answer: Which organization has the more shrewd corps of pro scouts, the grinders whose names for the most part you wouldn’t recognize but whose impact in decisions like the one Daniels and Kenny Williams made on Saturday can’t be overstated?

Whether it’s Texas’s scouting crew or Chicago’s that turns out to be more correct about what McCarthy and Danks and Masset will be, not to mention Rasner and Paisano, that’s where the correctness, and the wisdom, of this trade gets defined.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this trade in a couple days. Doubt I’ll be any more certain about how smart a trade it is, but I’ll at least get a lot deeper into the analysis of the exchange.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

4 Comments

Jamey…when you comment tell us if you think this means the Rangers have given up on a #1. Assuming there is no present #1 how do you see the starting staff shaking out. Why are we hanging on to Koronka and Rheineker?? Have a good holiday!

This is another bad trade by a GM who is over his head. The Rangers are spinning their wheels. All we did was get another Chris Young in the organization. Should have never traded him in the first place and now we get him back with a different name. McCarthy has done a decent job for the Sox but he could do like Loe did this year for all we know. Besides, he’s giving up home runs at an alarming rate outside of Arlington. What’s going to happen when he’s pitching here? If we would have given up Volquez or Diamond instead of Danks, I wouldn’t be as aggravated. Everyone seems to be forgetting that Masset could very well become a Major League starter himself. He has awesome stuff and now believes in himself. I agree with a comment earlier stating that you should never give up a first round pick (pitcher) before he has even been given a chance to pitch for your club (at least when he’s this far along in the organization). Daniels is slowly but surely depleting the organizational depth that it took so long to replenish in all aspects of the team. He’s killed our outfield so now he’s going to work on the pitching.

Looking at this trade my first reaction is I don’t like investing all the time we have in Danks and Masset and then giving them up. But on further analysis I think it sets the Rangers up for not getting Zito and being able to concentrate on getting a big bat for the middle of the lineup. Think about it, Millwood and Padilla are both legitimate #2′s. I think McCarthy will be a legit #3 this year and Tejada a legit #4. Now looking at the Rangers 07 schedule and the off days they only need 23 starts from the #5 slot if they start the first 4 with a mininum 4 days rest at every opportunity. Seems to me they could get 23 fill in starts from what they have now or a somewhat cheap free agent out there who could also pitch in long relief if needed or step in for injury while a youngster fills in at #5. Like this trade or not, it makes the Rangers most pressing needs now a big bat to hit behind Tex and the extending of both Tex and Young.

Hi Jamey,
I must admit that my first thoughts were that I didn’t like this trade at all!!! BUT after having a good look at it I think the Rangers came out ok. MY other thought was “who is this Paisano person” we got with the trade so I went looking .. He is only 19 (just) ,plays in the VSL. Baseball America says he hits at .338 with 22 walks 37 strike outs in 195 at bats and he was hit by pitch 11 times????? makes me think he leans over the plate aka Soriano style.His base stealing isn’t to good though only making 8 out of 14 chances. Can you find out more about him other than he is an outfielder. Like which position in the outfield? Maybe JD was thinking that he might be good for an outfield position in a few years time or next year (2008 I mean) when Lofton/ Wilkinson become free agents?? Any information would be helpfull thanks JN.

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